Wayne Turk has written about the seven deadly sins of project management. He lists them as follows:
Sin #1: Failing to have good, stable requirements – I don’t agree on this. Stable requirements are a rare occurrence as business needs change rapidly. Unless the project you’re managing is about selling rags on streets, expect never ending iterations in business requirements.
The failure of the project management is not about the stability of the requirements; but it is about unsigned requirements between you and the customer. Before the project proceeds any further in the development of the product, both parties should have already signed-off documents containing requirements, contract, deliverables and timeline.
Sin #2: Trying to do the job without enough resources or a good schedule – I agree that projects should have resources it needs to succeed. What I do not agree with Wayne is the idea of compressing tasks and working in parallel to get the job done. If the customer cannot afford to pay for the resources to get the job done on their timeline then they should at least move the schedule at a later date. I used to be a big fan of working and asking my team to work 17 hours a day; but after realizing the value of family, work and long-term continuous high performance output, management should use the 7 hour rule in project management (I have written about it here).
Sin #3: No good, repeatable processes (a.k.a. continually reinventing the wheel) – Wayne has a balanced perspective on processes and recommends the usage of such like the Capability Maturity Model Integration of Carnegie (CMMI) while keeping in mind that it is the roadmap and no the destination. He stress that results is what PMs are paid for not getting caught up with processes. I cannot agree more as I work in a CMMI Level 5 company and the benefits of having ton loads of processes is invaluable; however, there are so many things that happen along the way that adaptability becomes a requirement and sometimes processes needs to be reinvented or ignored.
Sin #4: Not identifying risks and working to mitigate them – Wayne did a good job on explaining the importance of risk management as well as giving a general overview to serve as a basis for risk assessment and mitigation. If I may add, project management teams should create a sustainable environment which assumes anyone may no longer report the following day due to some unavoidable circumstances. My PM would jokingly tell us that our project will continuously run even if he gets hit by a bus on his way home that afternoon.
Sin #5: Wanting the latest and greatest – I cannot relate with Wayne on this. He explains that PMs start projects using technologies without proven capabilities which he describes as “bleeding edge”. On the other hand he also discusses that closing your team to new technologies could lead to stagnation.
I work in a group which continues to successfully deliver solutions using the latest technologies that no one else has done. Two days ago I presented our finished solution using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 beta version. The top management is proud of our team and so I can’t relate with Wayne’s argument on that, except the stagnation part.
Sin #6: Poor communication – I agree with Wayne and would suggest that PMs should define processes that ensure everyone communicates to everyone concerned.
Sin #7: Bad people management practices – Wayne says that good managers are evident: cares about the job and people, honest, sensitive, knowledgeable, patient, and self-disciplined.
These characteristics do not only pertain to managers, but should be present to every single employee in the company. I was disappointed in his explanation of bad people management practices and expected something concrete like not having metrics to identify a person’s happiness within the team, not conducting surveys, no bonus reward system in place, no initiatives to have a great place environment, etc. Wayne’s suggestion to solve sin #2 is equivalent to sin #7.
People get absorbed in work and before they realize their current situation…